Marikana land occupation (Durban)

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Marikana Land Occupation (Durban)
Date12 March 2013 (2013-03-12)—present
LocationCato Crest area, in Durban, South Africa
ParticipantsAbahlali baseMjondolo movement
African National Congress
eThekwini Municipality
South African Police Service
Deaths15 March 2013: 1 Thembinkosi Qumbelo[1]
25 June 2013: 1 Nkululeko Gwala[2]
30 September 2013: 1 Nqobile Nzuza[3]
Marikana Land Occupation (Durban) is located in South Africa
Marikana Land Occupation (Durban)
Marikana Land Occupation (Durban)
Marikana Land Occupation (Durban) in Cato Crest, South Africa

In March 2013 around a thousand people occupied a piece of land in Cato Crest, Durban and named it Marikana after the Marikana miners' strike.[4][5][6] Mayor James Nxumalo blamed the occupation on migrants from the Eastern Cape.[7][8] He was strongly criticised for this by the shack dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo who said that "The City Hall is red with blood".[9][10]


The land occupation resulted in considerable conflict.[11] On 13 March the occupiers chased ANC councillor Mzimuni Ngiba out of his house and the general area.[12] Later on a community leader, Thembinkosi Qumbelo, was assassinated.[13] His murder was believed to be linked to the land occupation.[14] A second man, unnamed in media reports, was killed in the same attack.[15] On 25 June 2013 another activist involved in the occupation, Nkululeko Gwala, a member of the social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo was assassinated.[16][17][18] On 30 September 2013 Nqobile Nzuza, a seventeen-year-old girl, also linked to Abahlali baseMjondolo, was shot dead (two shots in the back) by the police during a protest.[19] [20]


The municipality illegally evicted the occupiers on a number of occasions[21] despite repeated court orders interdicting them from evicting.[22][23] The evictions by eThekwini's Land Invasion Unit backed up by police have been violent with police shooting residents with rubber bullets. One resident of Marikana named Mngomezulu was shot in the stomach with live ammunition by the Land Invasion Unit[24] and remained in ICU for weeks.[25] Friends of Mngomezulu reported that they feared that he would poisoned by supporters of the local ANC councillor while in hospital.[26]

The illegal evictions have been condemned by the South African General Council of the Bar.[27][28] It has been reported that as a result of defying the courts, eThekwini municipal officials, including municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole, could face imprisonment.[29] The Socio-Economic Rights Institute called the actions of the eThekwini municipality "criminal" saying that it "tears the fabric of our constitutional democracy."[30]

The occupation was destroyed by the City for the 9th time on 23 December 2013.[31][32]


There were a number of arrests of Abahlali baseMjondolo members during the conflict. The most prominent arrest was that of the movement's then General Secretary Bandile Mdlalose on the charge of public violence. The arrest caused a lot of controversy with commentators labeling the arrest "politically motivated" and being based on "trumped up charges".[33][34]


Abahlali baseMjondolo organised a response to the evictions and marched in the thousands on the Durban City Hall on 15 September 2013. One of the main demands of the march was for the evictions in Cato Crest to cease.[35]

After receiving no response to their memorandum, the movement began blocking roads and burning tyres in Cato Crest and adjacent to other shack settlements across the city of Durban claiming to be demanding "answers to all our unanswered memoranda."[36] During one of these road blockades an unarmed 17 year old girl, Nqobile Nzuza, was shot dead by the police.[37][38]

Court Cases[edit]

Abahlali baseMjondolo won cases against the provincial Minister for Human Settlements, Ravi Pillay, and the eThekwini Municipality, in both the Constitutional Court and the Durban High Court. These judgments showed the repeated evictions of the occupation to have been unlawful.[39] Following the Constitutional Court judgment the evictions ceased.

Online News Reports[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ From Lusaka to Marikana, SACSIS, 19 March 2013
  2. ^ Cato Crest land hunger of Marikana proportions, Mail & Guardian, 6 September 2013
  3. ^ In Durban's Cato Manor, death by protest death by dissent, Daily Maverick, retrieved 9 October 2013
  4. ^ ‘Migrants’ are fuelling Durban’s housing backlog, By Arthi Sanpath and Sihle Mthembu, Independent on Saturday, 16 March 2013
  5. ^ Shack dwellers invade Durban, Lee Rondganger and Nkululeko Nene, Daily News, 14 March 2013
  6. ^ "Poor people can think for themselves", Workers' Liberty, 27 March 2015
  7. ^ There will be blood, Daily Maverick, 27 September 2013
  8. ^ ‘Migrants’ are fuelling Durban’s housing backlog, By Arthi Sanpath and Sihle Mthembu, Independent on Saturday, 16 March 2013
  9. ^ Nigel Gumede Must Go, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 19 March 2013
  10. ^ Durbans brutal underside, CounterPunch, 24 September 2013
  11. ^ 'Black Boers' clear townships by force by Ruth Maclean, The Times, London, 22 November 2013
  12. ^ Councillor flees from land invaders, by Bongani Hans, The Mercury, 14 March 2013
  13. ^ "From Lusaka to Marikana, Richard Pithouse, SACSIS", 2013
  14. ^ Cato Crest community leader gunned down, by Nkuleleko Nene, The Daily News, 18 March 2013
  15. ^ 2 die in Durban land grab area, Sapa, 19 March 2013
  16. ^ Cato Crest: Land hunger of 'Marikana' proportions, Manqoba Nxumalo, Mail & Guardian, 6 September 2013
  17. ^ A Provincial Concern? Political Killings in South Africa, David Bruce, SA Crime Quarterly (45), 2013
  18. ^ Why Are Political Killings Increasing in South Africa?, James Bullock, Think Africa Press, 21 October 2013
  19. ^ In Durban's Cato Manor: Death by protest, death by dissent, Khadija Patel, Daily maverick, 1 October 2013
  20. ^ Sacrifice After Mandela: Liberation and Liberalization Among South Africa’s First Post-Apartheid Generation, Kerry Chance, Anthropological Quarterly, 2015
  21. ^ Marikana and the Contemporary Moment, New York Law School Review, 2014
  22. ^ Durban officials face imprisonment for Cato Crest evictions, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, 9 September 2013
  23. ^ Theoretical Criminology 19 November 2014 1362480614557306, Olly Owen & Sarah-Jane Cooper Knock
  24. ^ Cato Manor's struggle against state repression, GroundUp,. Ndabo Mzimela, 8 September 2015
  25. ^ ANC 1 Shack Dwellers 0, Mail & Guardian, 27 September 2013
  26. ^ There will be blood, Daily Maverick, 27 September 2013
  27. ^ Advocates slam council demolitions, Daily News, 26 September 2013
  28. ^ General Council of the Bar Statement on Cato Crest, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 23 September 2013
  29. ^ Duban officials face imprisonment for Cato Crest evictions, Mail & Guardian, 11 September 2013
  30. ^ Duban officials face imprisonment for Cato Crest evictions, Mail & Guardian, 11 September 2013
  31. ^ Bleak Christmas as dwellers are left homeless. By Rizwana Sheik Umar and Sihle Mlambo, The Daily News, 24 December 2013.
  32. ^ City destroys shacks. By Noelene Barbeau, The Daily News, 24 December 2013.
  33. ^ The Political Arrest of bandile Mdlalose, Africa is a Country
  34. ^ SAPS violence shackes the foundation of democracy,Daily Maverick
  35. ^ Shack dwellers take the fight to eThekwini – and the ANC takes note, Khadija Patel,. Daily Maverick, 16 September 2013
  36. ^ Road Blockades Around the City, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 26 September 2013
  37. ^ Sacrifice After Mandela: Liberation and Liberalization Among South Africa’s First Post-Apartheid Generation, Kerry Chance, Anthropological Quarterly, 2015
  38. ^ Nqobile Nzuza, a 17 Year Old School Girl, Shot Dead with Live Ammunition by the Cato Manor SAPS, Abahlali baseMjondolo, 30 September 2013
  39. ^ Court victory vindicates shack dwellers' rights, Daneel Knoetze, 27 August 2015